In a mixed opinion, EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) concluded that selenium could offer “protection of DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage, normal function of the immune system, normal thyroid function and normal spermatogenesis.”
But claims linking the mineral and normal cognitive function, normal prostate function and normal function of the heart and blood vessels, were dismissed.
Lal’Food offers selenium-rich yeast called Lalmin Se and said the approval was significant for the commercial viability of the ingredient in formats such as cereal bars or fruit juice.
Claims such as: “contributes to the protection of cell constituents from oxidative damage” or “contributes to the normal function of the immune system” could be utilised if the European Commission and member states validate the claims in their present form.
“EFSA has concluded that yeast with high levels of organic selenium species, such as LalminTSe, was up to twice as bioavailable than inorganic forms of selenium,” the company said.
By way of example of the NDA’s reasoning in regard to selenium and immune benefits it stated in reference to a 2005 study:
“Selenium appears to play a role in cell-mediated immunity. Human supplementation with selenium was able to stimulate the proliferation of activated T cells of the immune system. It elicited an enhanced response to antigen stimulation, an enhanced ability to generate cytotoxic lymphocytes, an enhanced ability to destroy tumour cells, and increased natural killer cell activity. Growth-regulatory interleukin-2 receptors on the surface of activated lymphocytes and natural killer cells became upregulated.”
The NDA added: “However, the evidence provided does not establish that inadequate intake of selenium leading to impaired function of the immune system occurs in the general EU population.”
In regard to the maintenance of normal brain function it noted: “Several selenoproteins are expressed in the brain, but many questions remain about their roles in neuronal function.”